New Year's for the Irresolute

There are plenty of local and touring shows this week, all of which have some degree of merit to recommend them. But at this late date in the year, sentimentality, nostalgia and increased alcohol consumption replace the standard critical criteria, making it a virtual lock that the best show of New Year's Eve will be, simply enough, the one where you happen to find yourself bemoaning the passing of another useless year. Here are some of the shows I'd take in if there were time to catch them all:

Robert Earl Keen home-style gig at the Brazos Bottom Bar and Grill should be a boot-scootin' hoot, seeing as how Keen's got the sentimentality, nostalgia and alcohol consumption bits down pat. You'll see lots of hats in the room, and some of them will be sitting atop literate heads. Keen's kicker bent is worn lightly over one of Texas' best -- and least pretentious -- songwriters. All the usual New Year's accouterments will be on hand, and you'll pay for it, too. Call 341-5210 for details.

de Schmog's New Year's Eve drunkfests at Rudyard's are long legendary, and the closest thing to a stabilizing factor this city has ever offered me -- when I stop in for a pitcher Saturday night, I'll be marking four consecutive years. There's a reason I keep coming back, and it's more than just the fact that this is the one time and place I can reliably count on seeing all those marginal out-of-town acquaintances who are home for the holidays. de Schmog knows it's a special gig, too, and they always seem to rise to the musical occasion before falling down, like all of us eventually do. Call Rudz at 521-0521 for info.

But though I'll still stop in, I won't be finishing the night at Rudz this year. Instead, I'll be at the Continental Zydeco Ballroom, where proprietress Doris McClendon can be counted on to provide a big, steaming pot of black-eyed peas, plenty of cold beer and a monstrously entertaining band. Hardly matters who, since there are no bad bands at the Continental. The club's already decorated in sassy red plastic, and there'll be no friendlier place in the city to usher in another resolutionless New Year. Call 229-8624.

-- Brad Tyer


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